Detox teas are fashionable right now. Dip into any newspaper or celebrity mag and sooner or later you will see a picture of a glamorous celebrity sipping on a detox tea brand and saying it is the best thing since sliced bread (presumably gluten free of course). The Kardashians, Britney Spears, Michele Keegan, Lindsay Lohan are just a few in a long line of celebrity detox tea fans.
The message is that detoxing will give you a boost to your health and help you lose weight, so unsurprisingly many of us are doing it. So what’s the harm? Surely this craze would not be popular if it was ineffective or dangerous?
It turns out that there is a lot of harm associated with detox teas and a move has been made by the medical community to ban some of the dangerous ingredients contained in these tea brands.
The British Dietetic Association said:
Endorsed by celebrities like the Kardashians, these brands shamelessly plug their products to a very susceptible audience, particularly teenage girls and young women.
Originally a detox was a medical treatment of removing toxic substances from the bodies of people with life threatening drug addictions.
These days it still refers to removing so called toxins from the body for health reasons but the difference is that there are no real health reasons why you should do it.
The basic idea seems to be that modern lifestyles are essentially unclean thanks to all that processed food, late nights and dangerous chemicals that surround us.
Taking a detox is seen as a way to give your health a quick boost and is a harmless way to make you and your internal organs all squeaky clean and somehow purified.
Visit the health food shop, pharmacy or supermarket and there are detox teas on sale often sitting close to the vitamin supplements and other health products.
We all love a cup of tea! It sounds so warm, cosy and healthy but this is far from the truth when it comes to detox teas.
What these all have in common is that they all contain high levels of laxatives. In fact the laxatives are the only way that these teas work. Although some detox teas may contain other ingredients as window dressing, such as green teas or ginger root for example, the active function of any detox tea is as a laxative.
Trade magazine the Grocer has highlighted concerns about these potentially dangerous products,
Behind benign branding and celeb selfies lie serious concerns about the ingredients used by brands to deliver these results.
In other words, detox teas are advertised as being harmless but this is a totally misleading impression.
There are hundreds of detox teas on the market as manufacturers join in the craze for detox supplements. It is big business and you can find detox teas on sale just about everywhere. The more people buy them, the more new detox teas hit the market. The more detox teas there are on the market, the more normalised they become.
We have covered many detox teas in previous Watchdog reviews. Some of the most popular detox teas on the market include Bootea
and Fit Tea Detox
The usual claims are that detoxing is good for you and will help weight loss, sooth your digestion and improve your immune system. These claims could not be further from the truth.
A petition has been launched asking for the removal of “dangerous laxatives” from detox teas. It has already amassed 28,000 signatures from doctors who label the detox craze as “unsafe”. In most cases the laxative of choice is Senna – a herbal extract that is extremely well known as a cure for constipation.
Senna is an approved herbal remedy for constipation but it should not be taken on a regular basis as with the detox teas and doctors are extremely concerned about the side effects.
One nutritionist and weight loss expert, Dr Lauretta Ihonor, tried a detox tea out for herself and was alarmed at the effects. Speaking in the Daily Mail she reported,
It can make you feel like you’re losing weight, you’re slimmer and cleansed. But, I had the worst cramps of my life and it lasted two days. I spoke to a 15-year-old who took it for two months and she tweeted me to say, ‘I’m having these pains and feeling dizzy, might it be the tea.’ It didn’t occur to her, she just wanted to be thin, so she powered on through the cramps and the illness.
According to Dr Ihonor, the laxative effect can have dangerous consequences. It can remove important fluids and electrolytes from the body which can lead to muscle damage, heart arrhythmia and a lazy bowel.
With an advertising campaign targeting younger celebrity conscious women, Detox teas can provoke eating disorders. Laxatives are often used by anorexics, and a detox tea which is often perceived as harmless can be a way of anorexic women to hide their addiction.
One young woman speaking in an interview on UK Breakfast TV told of her addiction to laxatives following eating binges; laxatives are often implicated in the unhealthy weight loss suffered by anorexics.
Even if you are not anorexic, long term use of laxatives may cause the bowel to stop working properly. Your bowels can quickly become dependent on laxatives and fail to work effectively on their own.
What the advertising does not tell you is that side effects to detox teas are often embarrassing and unpleasant. You will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom. You can expect flatulence and rapid onset diarrhoea that will see you dashing to the smallest room in the hope that you will get there in time.
The Kardashians and the other celebs may look cute posing in the media with their detox tea but don’t be fooled. If they really take these teas as they claim they will be experiencing the 2-minute bathroom dash, stomach pains and a long time spent on the toilet just like everyone else. Not quite as glamorous as their endorsements would have you think.
As ever, Watchdog readers have shared some of their experiences on the website. Many of the comments do not make for very pretty reading.
Reported side effects of Bootea include,
Horrible abdominal pain
Stomach pains and nausea
Stomach pains and gas.
Comments also included,
I have lost no weight, and just had the sh*** for 2 weeks straight. Sorry to be blunt. Do not have it before a day out because I nearly exploded at work!
You don’t feel the laxative effect until the 3rd/4th day and it is horrible. Headaches, dizziness and cramps
There are numerous comments along the same lines.
Bootea have now produced a Senna free alternative and has slightly toned down the advertising that previously claimed the tea was good for health. These days the advertising just claims that the tea is popular worldwide, although it does add that it will leave you feeling energised and fit.
Slendertox tea has also removed Senna from its tea despite the company’s claims that this is a safe and mild herbal ingredient.
However, there are hundreds of detox teas on the market, so these small changes are not going to make any difference as far as we can see.
We must leave the last word to Dr Ihonor speaking in the Daily Mail. She advises that you avoid detox teas completely and we agree with her no nonsense advice,
Common sense screams, stay away from all too-good-to-be-true diet pills and potions. Just exercise more, eat a nutritious diet that’s low in junk food and be patient.
The problem is that common sense has nothing to do with making money out of peddling potentially dangerous teas and supplements.
We cannot see the detox tea craze finishing any time soon, despite the best efforts of the medical profession. Nothing is as effective as a celebrity endorsement and the promise of quick fix weight loss. Sadly it seems that detox teas are here to stay. That is until they become unfashionable and are replaced by something else. We can only add our voice to the mix and advise you to avoid detox and weight loss teas for the sake of your own health.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.